Web Development

Lavacado Studios Consulting

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Christmas 2012_croppedIn late 2012, I had the opportunity to help my good friends, Lavacado Studios, redesign their website and improve their social media presence.  I also designed a new pitch deck and proposal template to help improve their first impression with clients.  Lavacado is known for its gorgeous mobile apps, so it was critical that these deliverables be clean, elegant and visual appealing.

Feedback from prospective and current clients has been extremely positive, with one client specifically calling out the level of professionalism and polish on pre-sale deliverables as a key differentiator that helped close the sale.

 

Civ3.com

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ColossusAfter re-launching the Firaxis website as a dynamic, ColdFusion-powered site with an online store, Civilization III was the next product to launch, and it would be the first project with our new publishing partner, Infogrames (briefly Hasbro Interactive, soon to be Atari).  Firaxis believed very strongly in controlling its own marketing message and managing those assets — in careful coordination with the publisher, of course.   Civ3.com was a huge endeavor because it marked Sid Meier’s reunion with the Civilization IP, so the website design, staging and update schedule was meticulously planned.

CivTriviaWorking with design firm Anonymous, I took their final PSD’s and sliced the files by hand into nested tables (CSS was not yet a reliable way to render layouts at this time), then used ColdFusion to template specific portions of the site layout for ease of propagation throughout the site.  I also developed and implemented a weekly quiz game called “CivTrivia” which tested users’ knowledge of the Civilization series, awarded scores, and kept track of top scores on a leaderboard on the site.

Every week for 16 weeks leading up to launch, a new Civilization from the game would be unveiled on the site as the “Civ of the Week“.  A new background style and images of that Civ’s leader and unique unit were released, as were two sets of custom wallpapers for each Civ.  Finally, I wrote an irreverent, humorous (yet historically accurate!) description of each Civ that accompanied the new assets and associated game data.

Developer updates, two of which I authored, served much the same purpose as modern dev blogs do, and our “Ask the Civ Team” feature fostered  interaction with fans at a time when 1-way outbound broadcasting was the model for product marketing websites.

The site framework worked wonderfully and was so successful that it was used time and time again for the various expansion packs which were added to the game in subsequent years.

Sid Meier’s Antietam!

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Antietam!
was Firaxis’ first foray into self-publishing.  After the success of 1997’s Gettysburg!, the studio realized there was a fairly nice-sized niche audience for polished, fun Civil War games, and had the rights to release derivative products utilizing the Gettysburg engine without going through EA (who was Gettysburg‘s publisher).   Antietam was to be the first in the “Great Battles” series, a line of self-financed and published wargames.

g11262qv4uuI was hired away from the IT consulting company I had been working at to build the infrastructure necessary to facilitate online sales as well as to assume responsibility for maintaining the website and all online community functions.   Using the ColdFusion web application  platform, I rebuilt the existing, static Firaxis website into a dynamic site complete with traffic analytics and integrated and customized a third party e-commerce package.

Though the product initially sold well, the idea of entering a credit card onto a small company’s website was not yet a pedestrian occurrence, and the lack of reliable, inexpensive digital distribution channels meant that physical product had to be created, warehoused, and shipped, which ended up costing significantly more than anticipated.    Though the initiative was several years ahead of its time,  Antietam! was eventually bundled with Gettysburg! and the South Mountain campaign and sold by EA as the “Civil War Collection”.